Soldier Mikko Vehvilainen jailed for CS gas canister

Image source, West Midlands Police
Image caption,
Mikko Vehvilainen was sentenced on Friday

A serving soldier and self-confessed racist has been jailed for having a banned CS gas canister.

L/Cpl Mikko Vehvilainen, 33, of Sennybridge Camp in Brecon, was cleared of terror offences on Thursday but admitted having a prohibited weapon.

Vehvilainen kept the spray in a drawer of a home he was renovating in Llansilin, Powys.

He was jailed for a total of eight years after another offence was taken into consideration.

A judge at Birmingham Crown Court said he had a "long and deep-seated adherence" to racist ideology.

Pavlos Panyai QC, the soldier's barrister, told the trial jury it was "not in dispute he is a racist" but it was not criminal, by itself, to hold such views.

Police found dozens of weapons - including knives, crossbows and a "war hammer" - at two properties in Powys occupied by Vehvilainen and guns which were licenced.

He also kept a photograph which showed him giving a Nazi-type salute at a memorial to his native Finland's independence.

Image source, West Midlands Police
Image caption,
Some of the weapons found at the two properties but not in Vehvilainen's possession

Recorder of Birmingham, Melbourne Inman QC, said: "It is to be hoped the time in custody will enable you to look and consider of what you seek to achieve, in hope you put it behind you."

Vehvilainen, of the Royal Anglian Regiment, was cleared following a trial of having a copy of a terrorist document - namely white nationalist mass murderer Anders Breivik's manifesto, the European Declaration of Independence.

Mr Panyai told the judge: "His career in the Army is over and he leaves having dishonoured himself and, what is more, having brought infamy on himself."

When the married father-of-three was arrested in September 2017, he told his wife: "I'm being arrested for being a patriot".

A 23-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was also jailed for three-and-a-half years for possession of two terrorist documents and distributing another.

A third man, also of the Royal Anglians, Pte Mark Barrett, 23, of Rutland, Leicestershire, was acquitted of membership of the banned extreme far right terrorist group, National Action.

An Army spokesman said: "We expect the highest standards of behaviour from our personnel whether on or off duty.

"Anyone found to have fallen short of these standards will be dealt with administratively and can face a number of sanctions including dismissal."